Virtual Studio Technology or VST is something that’s essential for music creators and professionals to have in their arsenal of tools, but there are so many options available that it can be tough to know where to begin in the selection process.
There are quite literally thousands of VST plugins available, and it can be overwhelming to know where to start, even as a seasoned music professional.
The following are some important things to know about VST plugins, particularly if you’re in the midst of trying to choose the right one for your needs.
First, a few core concepts to understand with VST plugins is that most work within a digital audio workstation and they can boost your functionality. They tend to be broken into two primary categories, which are instruments and effects, although there are lesser used categories as well.
The instruments delivered through a VST seem much like original equipment, and it is a great way to save money, time and manage logistical considerations that might prevent you from getting these types of equipment and devices.
Basically what a VST does is allow you to integrate various instruments and effects into your music. VST plugins provide users with an affordable way to have their home studio seem to become a professional-quality studio.
Effects vs. Plugins
There are two types of plugins, as was touched on above. The first is instruments, and the other is effects. VST effects plugins can process audio signals that are incoming, and they’re similar to effects that are found in pedals and rack-mount units.
VST instruments actually create synthesizer sounds, and there are also plugin options for instruments including strings, brass, and organs.
In addition to VST effects and instruments, there are also MIDI effects, which are responsible for processing MIDI messages and sending this data to other hardware and instruments.
One of the primary differentiating factors between all of the available plug-ins is based on the quality. With some plugins, production can be done in a matter of hours, and you can even find free options, but the general consensus is that the quality just doesn’t make it worth it. There are also options that are expensive and made by big-name companies, but you have to compare their value versus their cost.
Finally, a few other things to note about VST plugins include the fact that they’re not designed as standalone software platforms. They require a host and that host is what allows for communication between one plugin to another.
There are plugins specifically for Mac OS and PC so you’ll have to narrow down your choices based on this consideration, and you’ll need to ensure that if you’re using a PC, it has an ASIO driver. The standard plugin is created by Steinberg, and along with different installations for Mac OS and Windows, there’s another installation consideration for Linux.
If you do have a Mac device, you’re going to find that most plugins are designed for Windows because the OS X systems have something called Audio Unit technology, which is designed as a competitor for the VST plugins.